Emails and the sending of them has become about as common and pervasive as telephones came to be in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. At first the townspeople got them, then soon it was farmers and after a while every individual seemed to have their own. (Currently it is cell phones that are becoming so thoroughly established).
If you have just recently discovered computers and emails you may be very familiar with this scenario. If it has not happened to you yet, hold your breath - it will, very soon!
A person who is learning the most basics of writing and sending emails comes to a point where they discover that they can either keep hitting that "To:" button and adding more emails, or they can, with a few clicks, add everyone in their address book to that To: line. Presto! When she/he hits the "Send" button that email goes out to ALL those people in a jiffy. The first reaction might be, "Wow! Look at that! I just sent an email to a whole bunch of people at once!"
Then it goes to your head, and guess what, you want to do it again. And again.
So when one of your new email pen pals sends you a cute story or picture and suggests you forward it to all your friends, you try it and you feel so clever, so smart. You begin to look for more "cool" or "kewl" stuff to send to everyone.
You may not even realize yet, that your address book is set by default to "save" the email address of everyone who sends an email to you, so you have far more email addressed collected in there than you realize.
But this is where the craziness and poison sneaks in. If you are an ethical and good person you want to resist the temptation to send forwards or mass mailings like this. You are headed for Trouble. Back off!
Huh? You ask. "What's wrong with forwarding those cute - even inspirational emails? Why can't I do mass mailings? Lots of people do that!"
If you are open-minded enough to read on, I'll be glad to explain this to you.
(Lots of people can be very wrong too. In fact, the more that do a bad thing the bigger a problem is created, and that creates more problems as other react to it. Just the way wars are begun and fed).
There are people out there with evil intensions, who deliberately start a forward, like an innocent rumour. They may create a cute or funny page with stuff to make anyone laugh or gasp. They know that inspirational stories go over well with most people, a plea for funds or prayers to help some needy kid will do too. Then they send this out to their network of email addresses, with instructions to forward to all their friends. They know that sooner or later this email will end up coming back to them, and look at ALL those email addresses that have become attached each time it was forwarded. That's the booty they were waiting for!
They collect these until they have a large number. Then they put them on a CD or a file, and advertise them to people who want to make money on the internet and tell them just pay $39.95 and you can have so many millions of LIVE email addresses to whom you can advertise your products! Naturally, because there is a sucker born every minute, people pay up the money and start emailing their "ADS" to all those addresses.
You can test this for yourself. Start up a new email address and use it to send just two or three forwards to a list of friends whose emails you put into your address book. Then sit back and count the days until you start receiving ads and other junk mail, even porn, that you never asked for at that address. You did not give that email address to anyone or use it to sign up for anything. You did nothing but send out some forwards from that address. How else did that address get to all those other strangers?
What more proof do you need?
Besides that, I know a story of a woman who was stalked because of Forwards.
There's another reason to watch out for and NOT to send on anything that comes to you in a forward or mass mailing. Especially if that email has attachments to it, or comes in colour. That indicates that the email was created in HTML code, and it is in such code that a virus can be disguised, and sent to innocent you. Next thing you know, your computer is acting strangely, or freezes up so you can't do anything but re-boot. Your virus protection program can only catch and disable some of them. There are always viruses that will get through - especially if you have a Windows operating system. Some email programs like Outlook are as full of holes as swiss cheese. Sooner or later you will get a virus. (Unless you switch to a Linux operating system. Since I've done that, I've hardly ever seen one. I can only recall one instance when the screen went red and announced that it had killed a virus).
Do you really want to make enemies with your emails? I guess not! Win friends and their respect instead by choosing;
* Then resolve to make these your habits from now on;
* To refuse to forward any virus warnings, petitions for signatures, photos, and video attachments.
* To try to disuade your friends from forwarding them as well.
* To carefully choose the names and addresses when doing a multiple mailing to make sure the email is appropriate to the recipients.
* To use Blind carbon copy (B.c.c.) instead of To: if sending to more than one person
* To set up a proper mailing list if you will be sending out a regular newsletter
* To never send attachments to people without first asking their permission, and only such as you are sure are virus-free.
You may ask, "What about protecting my friends from viruses by warning them?"
Answer: Tell them to get a good virus protection program such as free AVG and check with that site whenever you or they hear of a virus. Do not depends on forward for such news as they are often recycled messages that are ten years old.
You may ask, "What if I want to send out a regular newsletter by email to my friends, or to my list of subscribers?"
Answer: Get an account at TrafficWave (your first 30 days are free), and then you can have a good professional looking newsletter or ezine, which allows people to opt in or to opt out, and you do not hold their emails hostage. In fact, you can advertise on your site, and invite others to subscribe to your list. Then you can feel free to send them your letter or ezine on a regular basis, and you can mention things you want to sell or promote, and you can rest assured that your growing list of subscribers really wants to hear from you. What's more! You have have as many lists as you want - with no limit to the number of subscribers!
This method is becoming more unreliable as many people and ISPs fight back against spam by setting up filters that screen out your perfectly good newsletter or ezine, so that your subscribers can't always receive it, even though they want to read your stuff. So you should also research things like blogs and RSS feeds. Because of all the abuse to the use of emails in the last 10-15 years, the general use of email has been negatively affected.
Just ask those that run a web business, how email, which was such a boon at the beginning has turned into a major frustration, all because people sink to their lowest level of ethical starndards, and not only spammers, but innocent people who help them by forwarding all kinds of unsolicited emails have contributed to this. It takes much more thought and planning to get some of those good advantages of email.
I sincerely hope you will not contribute to this huge problem!
I'm normally seen as a kind and patient, thoughtful and hard-working woman, however, if anything has rankled me and caused me to lose my emotional poise - okay, get me downright upset - it's these crazy forwards and people who send emails indiscrimately to anyone and everyone in their email program's address book, whether they know me or not.
I'll share a little incident to illustrate.
I look after a number of websites, besides my own. To be kept aware of matters relating to that site, or to receive feedback from that site, I have set up a number of emails. I use them to carefully separate the correspondence for each one. I had recently changed an email address with my ISP because of frustrations with good, and expected emails being filtered out and bad ones coming through.
This meant that I was not getting the expected emails any more of a missionary cousin in Africa. I'd tried several ways to notify her of the change, and it was not getting through. But at a recent missions conference, at a booth representing my cousin's mission, I spoke with the couple there about this email problem and they suggested that I write down my email on a notepad and they would connect to my cousin on my behalf and let her know the email I wanted to subscribe with to her list. Happily I did so. I put down a private address that I rarely use for anything but genealogy correspondence. That one had no filters on it, but only a very few people used it to reach me.
Two days later after the conference was over I was "catching up"on the weekend's emails, and lo, there was one from one of the guest speakers at the conference! I was astonished out of my socks. I had handed out business and my missionary card left and right, but NONE of them had that particular address. The only place I had hinted at that email was when I set it down at that booth, which had nothing to do with that speaker, and it was only to be given to my cousin.
I went to fuming mad. It had become too late, and I knew it was not a good idea to write that man when I was so angry. I could not remember one good thing he had said as a speaker. All I knew was that he had snitched that address and now was using it to invite me to join his Facebook page. Foul! Unethical! Either he copied it off that notepad or those missionaries gave it to him. Can't I trust anyone any more?
Crazy-enough, in the morning I felt even stronger about this, and woke with ideas of writing a scathing webpage and exposing him to the world. I resolved to do it first thing when I got to my office. However, something else came up, so I decided to let myself cool off until Thursday, and I would write that page then. I would send him an email and show him how articulate I could be and how I had the power to wipe out his reputation for this dirty trick.
Gradually, through the week, as I prayed about this, the Lord helped me to realize that I was over reacting. There are days when I think I've set this aside, and as soon as I let myself think about it again, I get hot and angry all over again.
Now, just think about the times you have been angry over an email. Multiply this by the many millions of people now using emails and running into situations that frustrate and anger them. Do you see how much emotional timber emails can cause to rise in us?
I don't like to be angry any more than you do. So I'm resolving all over again that my email manners and standards will be high and ethical, and instead of slapping people back I'll try to contribute to their education. That's what I'm doing here with this page. My business may grow slower because of my ethical stand, but I know I will prosper better in the end. So will you.
Please take my warning seriously, and study to improve your email ways.
Thank you. I appreciate that, and so will the people that you might otherwise have dumped your anger on. Even if they won't know this side of eternity how close they came to getting your whole garbage truck of anger zapped on them. :)
Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One
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